One of the aspects that makes a classic Mercedes-Benz so collectible is that they were highly prized when they were new. And few Mercedes models have a more revered history than the S-Class. Inspired by the model W186 in the early 1950s, the concept of the S-Class has set the gold standard for luxury cars. And the all-new 2007 S-Class promises to be the most advanced luxury car yet.

Mercedes-Benz large sedans have enjoyed the role of luxury and technology leaders for over half a century. And as each new generation S-Class has hit the road, it seriously raised the bar for its already vaulted class. To continue that heritage, Mercedes-Benz designers packed the all-new 2007 S-Class with every sophistication available to maximize its comfort and performance advantages. And it all starts with a solid foundation, a new chassis that has been designed to be stronger and stiffer, yet still absorb significantly more crash energy than the previous S-Class.

To reduce or even avoid the impact of those crashes are familiar aids like Brake Assist, and an updated Pre-Safe system. Along with the tightening of shoulder belts, adjusting seats, and closing windows and sunroof to reduce personal injury, Pre-Safe is now linked to the radar sensors of the Distronic Plus Adaptive Cruise Control. This new Pre-Safe twist even allows the car to come to a complete stop to avoid a collision.

To make night driving safer the S-Class can be fitted with Night View Assist. Unlike the blurred green thermal imaging of previous night driving systems, Night View Assist uses infrared projectors in the headlights, and an infrared camera mounted above the windshield to produce a sharp black-and-white image on an 8-inch display inside the instrument cluster.

But beneath these layers of advanced safety technology is also a very impressive motor car. The latest S-Class is slightly larger than its predecessor and rides on a 124.5-inch wheelbase; a 3-inch gain.

The longer body is more aerodynamic, with a pronounced wedge shape and very prominent fender flares, but it still carries itself in that dignified big Benz manner, and it now rides on standard 18-inch alloy wheels.

Power for our S550 test car comes from an all-new 5.5-liter twin-cam V8 with variable valve timing, for 382 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque. Still to come is a 510 horsepower twin-turbo V12 S600 and a 604 horsepower S65 AMG. An all-wheel drive S550 4Matic is due in November.

Engaging the current rear drive car’s 7-speed automatic is by way of a tiny column mounted shifter. Software allows for Sport or Comfort modes, and skipping up to three gears during downshifts for smoother operation.

We didn’t skip any gears at our track with a quick 0-to-60 time of 5.4 seconds. The quarter mile eclipsed in 13.8-seconds at 100 miles-per-hour. Very impressive times for a 2-ton plus sedan.

And it is one refined V8, with a soft bottom end that flows into a broad, flat power band with serious mid-range passing power. And EPA mileage ratings of 16 city/24 highway. We saw an average of 19 miles-per-gallon of premium grade fuel in our mixed test loop.

Handling is by Mercedes’ Airmatic multi-link suspension with air springs and variable ride height. With Airmatic, traction control, and electronic stability control all interconnected, the S550 is a remarkably agile and balanced machine. Made even more so with the optional roll stabilization Active Body Control.

Front plow and body lean are minimal, and turn-in is quite quick, driving smaller than its 17-foot length would suggest. Improve the heavy, vague speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering and it would be near perfect. Braking is very close to nirvana, too. Stops from 60 averaged a reasonable 131 feet. The pedal is firm with plenty of feedback.

But after all this fine performance, there’s still the subject of luxury. As expected, the new S-Class has an expanded cabin packed with all the amenities you expect, plus a few you might not. There are yards of wood, chrome and fine leather, plus front and rear side impact and head curtain airbags; 14-way power heated seats with optional ventilation and massage plus active lumbar and side bolsters that firm up in corners; a multi-function tilt and telescoping steering wheel that can also be heated; standard navigation that can add a rearview camera; a 600-watt Harman/Kardon surround sound audio system; and multi-zone climate control that automatically adjusts for the number of passengers on board. Much of this is controlled by the latest Mercedes-Benz COMAND system, which uses a central controller to run multiple systems. It’s convenient but extremely complicated, requiring a lot of time reading the manual. Fortunately, the most necessary functions have redundant buttons.

The rear seat is almost limo-large with plenty of head and leg room for big folks. There are optional power seat adjustments and available power sunshades for side and rear windows. There is power assist for the doors and trunk lid, which covers a huge 19.8 cubic-foot cargo bay.

And that’s not the half of it. But for all of the 2007 Mercedes-Benz S550 you will need a whole lot of dollars. Base price is $87,175, with a $1,000 gas guzzler tax. Add in our test car’s options and a steep $105,045 is the price of admission.

But then there is no other large luxury sedan quite like the 2007 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. It’s the most advanced luxury sedan yet devised. Yet, while extremely complex, it is still a very enjoyable and even entertaining day-to-day drive. The fact that this new S-Class would raise the bar for large luxury cars was never in doubt, but it’s now so high that most rivals can only stare up in awe.



  • Engine: 5.5-Liter Twin-cam V8
  • Horsepower: 382
  • Torque: 391 Lb Feet
  • 0-60 MPH: 5.4 Seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 13.8 Seconds @ 100 MPH
  • 60-0 MPH: 131 Feet
  • EPA: 16 MPG City/ 24 MPG Highway
  • Mixed Loop: 19 MPG